College football odds Week 12: Take UCLA to beat USC, other best bets

The biggest Pac-12 football weekend is upon us, so let’s capitalize on this pivotal weekend with some winning wagers.

Here are my best bets of the week, with odds via FOX Bet.

No. 8 USC at No. 12 UCLA (8 p.m. ET Saturday, FOX)

The Battle of Los Angeles. 

This will be the biggest game in this rivalry since 2005, when both teams were ranked in the top 11 with a title game berth on the line for the Trojans. Similar to 2005, the Trojans could potentially be playing for a national championship; USC is ranked in the top six and needs to win out for a chance at a CFP berth. UCLA, after an embarrassing loss to Arizona on Saturday, still has plenty to play for in this Victory Bell game. A win by the Bruins knocks their rival out of the playoff discussion while propelling the Bruins one game closer to a Pac-12 Championship Game appearance. The Bruins have not played in a Rose Bowl since 1998. 

You need to excuse the Bruins’ performance on Saturday against Arizona when I discuss this game. It was an embarrassing loss and reeked of a team looking ahead to USC. Yes, it was disappointing, but it doesn’t have much weight on this weekend. UCLA will play to its full potential, and a Bruin team that does that is a Bruin team that will cover against ‘SC.

These teams are remarkably similar. USC’s offense ranks second in points per drive, while UCLA’s offense is sixth. USC’s defense ranks 88th in points per drive and UCLA’s defense is 91st. The big difference in this game will be UCLA’s defense. 

The Bruins do not allow big plays, but USC allows very quick scores. UCLA’s defense ranks second at limited offensive plays over 20 yards, and its general explosive play rate on defense ranks 42nd. Meanwhile, USC is 112th in explosive play rate and 101st in plays allowed over 20 yards. Because of this difference, I see UCLA winning this game. 

If the Bruins are able to force a few field goals or turnovers on downs, their rushing attack will control this matchup. USC has seven conference wins against teams who have a combined 14 wins in conference play. UCLA has beaten Utah and Washington in the Rose Bowl. 

Blue and gold is ready for this cross-town battle. 

PICK: UCLA (-105 moneyline at FOX Bet) to win outright

No. 13 Utah at No. 6 Oregon (10:30 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPN)

This game takes on less national importance after Oregon’s humbling loss to Washington on Saturday, but it’s still important in the Pac-12 conference. 

Both teams need to win for a chance to play in the conference title game. A loss means elimination. At the moment, it’s difficult to have an idea on the side or total without injury information on Oregon quarterback Bo Nix. If Nix can’t play, Oregon is getting blown out. The Ducks’ backup is not ready for this moment. So while it’s not safe to wager on much yet, there is a wager I made already.

Oregon’s defensive efficiency numbers had not been excellent over the last two months, but the Ducks also didn’t allow massive amount of points. You guys know I’m a proud former Duck and a forever fan, but I wondered about Oregon’s numbers. Is this defense better than the numbers suggest? Turns out the answer is no. Washington torched Oregon on Saturday, and I expect Utah to score just the same. 

I understand the Utah offense is different from Washington’s. Washington throws it deep down the sidelines, and Utah likes to run the ball and control the clock. Oregon’s defense is excellent at stopping the run. The Utes are going to use play action pass and use the middle of the field with their tight ends. They don’t have the receivers to push it downfield like the Huskies did. However, I’m not convinced Oregon’s defense can stop any form of passing attack right now. 

Also, the Huskies showed that the Ducks can give up yards on the ground if you run into their line stunts. 

So, I’m taking Utah over 28.5 points in this contest. 

PICK: Utah team total Over 28.5 points scored

Colorado at No. 25 Washington (9 p.m. ET Saturday, PAC 12 Network)

Pretty simple wager here. Wager on points against Colorado. 

Washington’s high-powered passing attack, led by QB Michael Penix Jr., scores points fast. The Huskies rank fifth in points per drive, fourth in passing success rate and sixth in third-down success rate. Colorado’s defense is 131st in points per drive, 128th in explosive play rate and 128th in points per scoring opportunity. 

The Buffaloes have allowed 49 and 55 points in back-to-back weeks against some of the best-scoring offenses in the Pac-12 conference. I’d wager for that to happen again. 

Take the Washington team total to go over.

PICK: Washington team total Over 48 points scored

Geoff Schwartz played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his senior year. He is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.

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